So Callaway claim the Big Bertha irons are 2 clubs longer? Well, I had to check that out.
Let's forget the technology for a while and go straight to testing at the Callaway Performance Centre in St Andrews where I was able to test the Big Bertha irons on Trackman the day after they were announced to the world.
The benchmark Callaway are using for their claim is their RAZR X HL iron that was launched in February 2012. Unsurprisingly there was not one around at the Performance Centre, so I tested it on Trackman against Callaway's most recent game improvement iron which is the X2 Hot.
After a bit of warming up I did manage to get the Big Bertha 7-iron to go almost as far as the X2 Hot 6-iron. When we posted these results on the Golfalot Twitter page we were asked if the lofts of the two sets are the same. They are, but the standard Big Bertha shafts are a quarter of an inch (6mm) longer, which is negligible.
So yes, for me the Big Bertha irons are around a club longer than Callaway's last cavity back iron. Comparing it to an iron that was launched two and a half years ago is, well, let's just say the marketing team earned their money on that one.
So why are they longer? Well, it is all down to the 360 Face Cup which comes from Callaway's woods and allows the weld line to be behind the face rather than on it.
This increases ball speed as the face can be thinner across a larger area. Certainly the impact felt very good and the sound was also pretty good for a hollow iron.
Callaway has also brought across the internal standing wave from their woods, which is a ridge of metal on the inside of the sole that raises the Centre of Gravity (CG) and brings it low and forward to make the club more forgiving.
The heads are a generous size and do offer a lot of forgiveness. If you are familiar with Big Bertha irons of old then you will see the visual similarities right away. There is a reasonable offset and the top line is quite wide, but it still manages to look playable.
The progressively shorter head length as you go down the set helps this and keeps the sole width in the short irons narrower to stop them getting too chunky. The wedge is actually pretty good, which is unusual for these types of set so Callaway has done a good job here.
You can see the back of the club in the longer clubs at address and to a degree that is expected in game improvement irons, but overall they sat pretty well.
Callaway say they are aimed at golfers who want forgiveness and more distance. However distance in irons is a relative thing as you need them to have decent gaps between each other and provide the right flight.
The Big Bertha irons do offer this and the flight is medium to high without ballooning, so no issues there. They also felt a little lighter than the X2 Hot irons and that also helps create that extra clubhead speed.
Despite the over-enthusiastic marketing, they are longer than previous Callaway irons, which means that you will need to watch your gaps between your irons and your woods and wedges.
The Big Bertha irons start with a 20.5° 4-iron, which will no doubt overlap for distance with your hybrid now, but maybe not land as steeply or stop as quickly. Therefore, it will probably be best to start with the 23° 5-iron to keep the gap to your first wood the same, although a fitting session will comfirm this.
At the other end you could go down to the A or 'Approach' wedge at 49°. As this will probably go as far as a usual set PW at 45° then you should skip the Big Bertha SW from the set and go for three Callaway Mack Daddy wedges at say 50°, 54° and 58°.
So you will be buying 5-9 iron then PW and AW from the set, followed by another PW, GW and LW just to get the same gaps as you had before. This is where all the distance gains in irons make a mockery of the numbering and maybe why we should just move to lofts instead.
Yes, I understand the numbering is based on the fact that the stronger lofted 7-iron has the same peak height as a 'normal' 7-iron and therefore that the ball goes faster off the face and you get extra distance. It just seems wrong to have sets like this unless you have a fetish for the letter W.
If you forget the numbering and the hefty price tag, then the Big Bertha irons do offer an easier way to play the game, as you will have more forgiveness thanks to more loft in your hands with a club that will probably go further than your current irons.
Whether that makes you feel 2 clubs longer is up to you.